a possible coworker turned out to be my date’s wife

A reader writes:

I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, and this is undoubtedly the weirdest situation I have ever been in professionally and I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

I ballroom dance as a hobby. Recently, a gentleman began showing up to my dance classes and started flirting heavily with me. We made several dates, found out we had a lot in common, and made out, but didn’t have sex. Four weeks later, he called me, with his wife listening in, to tell me that he was married and could no longer see me. Of course, I was angry and read him the riot act for being deceptive. His wife then emailed me, complaining that I was being too hard on him (what?!) because she had already had two affairs, he had had only one, and he was looking to even the score, and I seemed like a nice girl who might be open to that sort of thing (WHAT?!).

We had a long email conversation in which I shared why I was definitely not a good choice for that sort of arrangement, and she replied that she understood but hoped I would give him another chance to demonstrate how nice he was (*head explosion*). I gave her my views on the situation: that it seemed to be problematic to say the least and I thought if they were having troubles in their marriage they should get counseling and work things out on their own, perhaps read a book that I found had helped me–I tried to be as reasonable and kindly as I could, because it sounded like they really were having serious troubles, but I did tell her that I thought both of them had exercised poor judgment and were not communicating well or thinking through the ramifications of their actions. I’m recently divorced myself after my spouse had a destructive affair; I’ve been through marital problems and I feel some sympathy for both of them on that front.

She didn’t take the criticism well, but agreed that for the sake of their child they would try to work on their relationship with each other, and we talked about how we could avoid accidentally running into each other, particularly since she would like to join in her husband’s hobbies more often so they could bond more. I offered to meet her for coffee if she would like to talk further, but said that I was definitely not up for that sort of affair for lots of reasons, and she said no thanks, she didn’t need to talk anymore and was frankly tired of the drama and being judged and all that. And then she casually mentioned in her last email what field she was in, sort of in the course of, “yeah, I have work to do, thanks but no thanks.”

My heart dropped out of my chest. Not only does she work in my industry, she works for the company where I am currently interviewing for a contract job, under a consulting company that would like to hire me. She would not be the interviewer, or likely even know that I was interviewing. The consulting company would be my actual employer, but this is one of their major clients and they like interviewees to meet with clients to be sure the clients approve of the person managing their project before they place anyone. And she is in a position where we definitely have a high chance of bumping into each other, even collaborating on a project.

I quickly shot her an email saying that I wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings in case we run into each other accidentally through work, that the offer to chat over coffee stands if she ever wanted to take me up on it, and that I wished her well and hoped she and her husband could work things out happily.

And of course if I ever do bump into her, I will certainly act professionally and courteously, but other than that…wow. I feel like if we run into each other I should probably just pretend it never happened, maybe say something like, “It’s so good to finally meet you” and explain to any other colleagues that she is a friend of a friend without mentioning even a hint of anything else. I have a pretty good poker face and I don’t think I would give away any clues that we know an awful lot of very personal stuff about each other. Do I offer to start over in our acquaintance and try to deal with the awkwardness by driving right through it? Do I not breathe a single word? Is it some sort of conflict of interest I should be concerned about–I mean, it isn’t really because her position doesn’t control which contractor gets the bid, but she has to work closely with the contractors for regulatory reasons and approve the final reports, and I’m worried that it would become an issue. I am really gobsmacked here. I did get the impression from her last two emails that she was embarrassed, resentful, frustrated with my responses, and wasn’t expecting so much conflict over the situation (not to get all Judgy McJudgersons, but really? you thought this would be no big deal?).

But wait, it gets worse: If I get the job (and it’s looking good, so far I’ve had two interviews that have gone smashingly and the hiring manager and I really clicked, and I am close friends with respected colleagues in other departments of her employer who are happy to spread the word that I am awesome), it would be to remediate shoddy work that her department had performed a couple years ago: this contractor was hired specifically in response to a regulatory agency shutting the place down, and after the announcement of the shutdown, there was a hostile takeover by a larger company and tons of layoffs. Her specific department and her specific position, where she was working when it all went down, is notoriously incompetent, but by a quirk of the senior management changes during the takeover, kept their jobs (for now, though it’s not looking good for them in late 2014). My position would be automatically antagonistic to hers. I have held management positions before that had a lot of inter-departmental conflict to work out, and I can be pretty darn charming and inclusive, but this is all a bit much. I feel like I have done all I reasonably can do, but…? I don’t even really have a moral advantage in the rumor mill if everything got out, we both know WAY too much dirt about each other. Aaargh!

This is a clusterfudge of epic proportions.

For what it’s worth, I think it was a mistake to get so entangled in conversation with the wife to begin with, rather than simply saying, “I didn’t know he was married, thank you for telling me, goodbye.” It’s easy to say that from afar, of course, but it’s worth throwing out there (not that you’re likely to find yourself in quite this situation again).

In any case … as I said, clusterfudge. I don’t think there’s a clean, easy answer here, but given that the problems started with over-involvement, I think the smartest course of action lies in doing the opposite of that now.

Which might actually mean walking away from this potential job altogether. I get that that completely sucks — why should you have to, if the job is otherwise right on both sides? But if your sense if that this situation is likely to cause problems if you get the job, then the job isn’t the right one. No matter how ideally suited you for the work and how much you like the prospective manager and the culture, if this person is going to cause issues for you, that’s not a good situation or a job you’d enjoy. It could easily go from “great job where I love the work and the culture” to “nightmare job with a crazy coworker spreading rumors that harm my professional credibility and make it hard to get things done.” And that could end up being the case even if you weren’t going to be working closely with this person — but it sounds like you’ll be in a role that will be somewhat adversarial to hers. It’s easier to imagine this going badly and being filled with drama than it is to imagine it going well.

And to be clear, I’m not saying that because the wife of someone you went on a date with works there. I’m saying it because this particular wife has shown herself to be a bit unhinged.

I’d stay far away from that, especially when it comes to your career.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 176 comments… read them below }

        1. Greg*

          “Dear AAM,

          I always assumed that those letters you publish were fake, but you’ll never believe what happened to me last week …”

      1. Jamie*

        I remember the first one. Heather B and Julie..back before Eric did cheesy exercise videos.

        Weird trivia – the awesome David Guintoli from Grimm was once a mere Road Ruler. Who would have thought he had such potential. (That was after my time watching MTV, but still found it amusing.)

  1. fposte*

    If you do encounter her, no, it’s not good to finally meet her; do not make it sound like you’ve been eagerly awaiting this. I wouldn’t even acknowledge that you’ve had a virtual conversation, and if she brings it up in front of others, it’s just “I share a class with Jane’s husband.”

    I’m going to slightly belabor Alison’s retrospective point in case you do take the job, because what you’ve been doing with this indicates a tendency that you’re going to want to change if you want to make sharing an organization with this woman work. No more discussions of people’s personal lives for you. No more explanations beyond “No” (you can lengthen the “No” to “No, that’s not going to work for me” but you can’t *explain* it) for your personal decisions. Anything personal gets raised, and it’s “Mmm-hmm, and about those quarterlies.” This goes for the office generally, I’d say–you want a reputation that’s absolutely professional in case she does try to bring this in against you. But mostly, she’s a gremlin, and you fed her after midnight. Now you have to set yourself up to starve her.

    1. Jessa*

      Exactly, you just want to be professional if you want to take this job. If you don’t have to admit you know her, don’t.

  2. EM*

    What?! Who gets into an extended conversation with the wife of a man you almost had an affair with?!

    When he called you(?!), you should have just said, “OK thanks, Crazy McCrazytons,” hung up the phone, and not thought for another second about this insane situation!

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yeah. I am sorry that my comment is not helpful now and not exactly on topic of a work blog, but I can’t not say this: you got too entangled. After the phone call where you found out, you should have had no more contact. You should never have responded to her email, become her sounding board, offered to have a chat. (What?!)

      The husband is dispicable for lying to you, leading you on, and “cheating” on his wife.

      Was he “cheating”? From the wife’s weird reaction about you being too hard on him, it makes me wonder if she give him some sort of permission for an open marriage. Frankly she sounds like she was still encouraging one after the whole phone conversation about not seeing him anymore. Don’t know, Cra-cra.

      You made some mistakes but not maliciously. I think husband and wife may be sort of malicious entangling you in their marital woes. But unfortunately the fact that she’s irrational and has no boundaries means that working with her professionally may not be possible.

      But if you do get offered, take the job, and run into her, I would recommend not acknowledging your past interactions. Don’t say “It’s so good to finally meet you,” don’t call her a mutual friend, don’t admit knowing her husband, etc. Pretend it never happened.

      And do not engage about the affair ever again. If she tries, brush her off with “I don’t want to talk about it.”

      1. A Bug!*

        Okay, well, sure, maybe there’s some open marriage thing going on. But that doesn’t excuse any of the behavior coming from those two, at all. It also doesn’t look like any healthy open/poly relationship I’ve ever seen.

        If you’ve got an open marriage, and it works for you, great. But you each have to be open with any potential extramarital partners, too, so that they can make an informed decision about proceeding.

        Instead, it looks like some messed-up tit-for-tat affair war between the two of them, and OP got unwillingly placed in the position of pawn. Not cool.

      2. Kay*

        Wow – see, I was thinking the whole time that the OP had really been speaking to the husband through an email addy he made up to impersonate his wife. That way he could feed her a sob story about their relationship and pretend his wife was encouraging an open marriage.

        1. Cath@VWXYNot?*


          With apologies to the OP, because this sounds like it would be much less amusing in real life than it is on the internet, this just keeps getting better and better…

      3. Gene*

        Google monogamish. Though they borke one of the “rules”: the other person needs to know what is going on.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          +1. Opening up a relationship takes a lot of trust and you need to talk, talk and talk some more about it. This couple did not.

          Also nice Dan Savage reference. Non-monogamy isn’t for everyone.

    2. Katie the Fed*


      Anything you say in a situation like that is just throwing fuel on a fire. I once (very stupidly) unknowingly started dating a man who told me he was divorced (lie). I ended things when I found out after a couple weeks but his wife basically stalked me and it was a giant mess. The only communication you need to have is “I wish you the best; please do not contact me again” and then ignore all future communications.

      I would stay away from this woman and her drama. Far, far, FAR away.

      1. thenoiseinspace*


        It sucks being the “other woman” and not knowing it. While I’ve never dated a married man, I have dated a guy who, unbeknownst to me, was actually in a serious relationship. Tool.

        On the other hand, I can see why OP did it. If her marriage had just ended due to cheating, I can see her wanting to take out some frustration on this couple (who is, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, “whack-a-doo.”) It’s still not a good idea, obviously, but I sympathize and get where she’s coming from.

    3. OP*

      I know, but let me say one thing in my defense:

      We do live in a small community outside a major metro area, and there is a good chance I’ll run into them both anyway outside of work, as well–we’re talking, a neighborhood BBQ or weekend gardening seminar, we live quite nearby. Under any other circumstances, we travel in the same circles of acquaintances and probably would have even been friends. I have a vested interest in maintaining some sort of peace with them in that sense. Furthermore, if she is going to start going to dance classes with him, I resented the notion of being chased out of something I really enjoy, with a fantastic instructor, when I was not the jerk who caused the situation.

      I say “resented” because I emailed the instructor explaining the situation, and he very recently got back to me saying that he preferred I keep up with the class, and if she showed up to create drama, he would ask them both to leave rather than lose me as a student, and furthermore he found me a new dance partner. But, I didn’t know that at the time.

      I agree that I shouldn’t have engaged her, but I really did feel sorry for her in a lot of ways. She seemed very earnest and well-meaning, and her first email to me was actually several pages long, detailing their entire relationship, sort of pouring her heart out. From that, I got the impression that we could maybe talk this out so there would be no hard feelings, but…not so much.

      1. fposte*

        Remember, it’s not about whether you feel sorry for them, whether you think they’re good people at heart, or whether you want to feel like you can be friendly later; it’s whether engagement is going to improve things. And with somebody who comes at you this bizarrely, it’s not going to. I understand it can be tempting in the moment, but that’s an impulse that needs to be squelched so the situation can really be thought through.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I feel kind of mixed about you emailing your instructor about this. While I can see that you were trying to work out what to do and minimize drama, it involved another person in this scenario and thus I think it actually created more drama.

        1. Jamie*

          I wouldn’t have emailed the instructor – it has a gossipy feel to it and as Elizabeth mentioned involves more people.

          I’d have just asked for a new partner and then if the wife came and things got weird address it then – but this was too preemptive for me.

        2. KimmieSue*

          Agreed on the speaking to the instructor as well as the amount of time and energy provided to the wife. You’ve invested way too much time in this situation.
          Personally, if the wife works at the company, I’d probably remove myself from the interview process. I don’t know that the potential of negativity (and gossip) seeping into my professional space would worth the job. In my opinion, the wife has already shown poor judgement and I’d fear that she might say things about you that were untrue.

        3. OP*

          No, actually the opposite–I’m a very regular student and if I was MIA there would be a problem and gossip and they would wonder why one of the serious students left. About half the people in the class are not at all beginners just learning some moves for a wedding, they are professional instructors themselves looking to learn new techniques who have big networks, dancers who do the panel judging in competitions, etc. It would be kind of a thing if I suddenly vanished.

          1. Joshua*

            Even going with your assumption that it would actually be a big deal – it still was something that could have waited until you were actually at the point of having to make a decision to stay or go. At this point this is all completely hypothetical – you say ‘if she is going to start dance classes with him’, it sounds like you’re conjecturing here but that it hasn’t actually happened.

            These are the kinds of preemptive actions that fuel the situation and keep it going instead of stopping it. Stuff like this has to be starved to death by it not being talked about or acknowledged unless absolutely necessary.

          2. fposte*

            The options aren’t simply vanishing vs. telling the instructor the story, though. You can keep going and keep the issues to yourself and leave the instructor out of it unless he needs to intervene. Until he does, there’s no reason he needs to hear the details.

            I think one reason that’s raising people’s eyebrows a bit (or mine, anyway) is that again you lean toward getting involved in a saga rather than leaving it alone, and if you do want to work at this office, that’s a tendency that’s going to absolutely fry you. Look, if this were me, I’d be weirded out and kind of buzzed from this bizarre story and wanting to tell it; I understand if that’s you too, which it seems like it is. But you can’t do that and make a success of this workplace.

            1. OP*

              I didn’t tell him the whole saga, I just said that he probably noticed Guy and I were having fun together and flirting a bit, and it turned out he was married and the wife wanted to come to the class, and that it could be quite awkward. I don’t think it’s fair to blindside him with this stuff, either–I’ve been in the opposite situation WAY WAY too often where entirely predictable conflicts and drama happen because they aren’t nipped in the bud, and then afterwards it turns into a big he-said she-said mess that’s impossible to sort out. At my last job, we actually lost two otherwise very good employees who had an obvious personality conflict, because the managers in question were 1) always traveling and rarely saw the personality clashes it in person and 2) one manager was very non-confrontational and refused to address it. Both employees had a huge screaming match over a few days, then quit on the spot, leaving a massive mess of unfinished projects and an HR tangle to unsnarl.

              Plus, in this particular class, you need a partner. You can’t just show up. And if Guy and I showed up (and Wife did not), but Guy and I still didn’t dance together, it would also be problematic and I’d have to explain why.

              As to what to do about the situation, I left it up to him to decide, as it’s his class. He told me to stay and if there were any conflicts he would resolve them and he had another dance partner in mind.

              1. OP*

                Wanted to add, the guy joined the class a couple weeks after my previous partner got a job the next state over and moved away. The instructors match you up using a mailing list, and the first lesson is spent evaluating who is at your level and what you need to work on.

                1. Green*

                  Again, still a lot of preemptive information that doesn’t really quell the drama.

                  “Hi, any chance you could match me up with a new partner? I’d like to change it up a bit.”

                  If he says no, then you can say, “Things are a bit awkward with X. Can you you please match me up with a new partner?”

                  Is it your right to do it? Sure; you can tell anybody anything you want about this bizarre situation. Is it drama minimizing? Not at all. And drama minimizing is what you want if you have professional overlap.

                  FWIW, I too have the overinvolved tendency and would want to tell everybody about this creep and his creepy wife and their whole bizarre drama, but it’s important to distinguish what may be a gal-pal from college thing to share via a wine-and-Skype session vs. what you want to put out in the community where you both interact….

                2. Green*

                  Also, to many people, this is going to come off as: “Crazy OP tried to have an affair with my husband because her own marriage didn’t work out and kept wanting to meet for coffee and be besties with me after we called her to put a stop to her weird flirtations.”

                  So (as you acknowledged) you don’t have an advantage in the rumor mill, and pre-emptive actions are just going to lead to a crazy situation where you are going to be the bad guy depending on who is telling the story.

        4. Elizabeth*

          I realized that my comment above doesn’t actually do anything to help the current situation. I’ll adapt it to say that I think that, going forward, the best course of action would be to act only professional/casual-acquaintance-style polite to both the husband and wife if/when you run into them, and not to bring up the whole situation with anyone else unless one of them starts to spread rumors about it. If you do wind up working in the same company as the wife, focus only on the work aspects of the interaction – keep a cordial but one-dimensional relationship.

      3. Job seeker*

        Why in the world would you even want to have a conversation about this with this woman? I would have done what Alison said at first, just told her I did not know he was married thank you for letting me know. Period. There was no reason you needed to continue any communication after that. You opened a can of worms for yourself.

      4. iseeshiny*

        Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I’m sure you’ll do better next time (although hopefully there won’t be one!) and while it might have been better to have not engaged, I don’t think you’ve done anything morally wrong. Don’t beat yourself up too much about this. It’s really easy for all of us here to tell you what you should have done, having the gift of both hindsight and not actually being you, and at this point I don’t think it’s helpful or constructive to flog yourself about this. Just pretend it never happened if you ever run into them, and keep your distance as much as you can. It might be awkward at class for a little while, but as long as all parties pretend as hard as they can that everything is ok and normal, it’ll start to feel that way. Good luck!

    4. Ruffingit*

      I had a friend once who got into just such an extended conversation with the wife of the man she nearly had an affair with. That situation was also a clusterfudge of epic proportions. So it does happen, but it’s never a good idea. A “no, I’m not interested in an open relationship, good luck with your marriage” will suffice as will simply ignoring the whole thing.

  3. MrsKDD*

    This…is just…wow.
    I feel for you OP, I do. I don’t have advice, because I have no idea what I would do. Well, I suspect the initial conversation wouldn’t have gone much farther than me saying “you people are batsh*t crazy” and hanging up but that’s the kind of person I am. Best of luck to you.

  4. Lily in NYC*

    It’s rare that I’m almost speechless. First, my feeling is that maybe this couple was trying to get you involved in some sort of threesome. I think you need to remove yourself from this situation. You probably could have worked this out if you hadn’t gotten into a back and forth conversation with the wife – which leads me to believe you won’t be able to keep yourself out of work drama with this woman if you are in the same office. I don’t mean to sound harsh; I’m not sure I’d be able to keep myself out of it either, which is why I’d run, run, run.

    1. some1*

      “First, my feeling is that maybe this couple was trying to get you involved in some sort of threesome.”

      Either that, or the wife A) wanted the lowdown on all that went on & she thought she could find out by pretending to be besties with the LW &/or B) she is pretending she wants the affair to continue as some sort of sick test for the husband & LW &/or C) she wants the affair to continue so the husband can “even the score” and the wife feels some control over the situation because she already knows about the LW, vs the idea of her husband trying to meet someone and not tell her.

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, I wondered if there was a group thing in the making myself.

      But I can also see it as two people both determined to explain themselves and to cast themselves as being a big person in a crazy situation and not realizing that that’s making them keep talking when they should shut up and never hear from each other again.

      1. OP*

        THIS. Argh, I should have shut up, you’re right, but she just seemed like…I hate to say a very nice person, but at least someone with good intentions and just no reality check. And in her first and second emails, she was saying they thought *I* was the crazy one for being so obviously angry and telling him off!

        1. fposte*

          Heh. To be honest, OP, I’m kind of projecting on you, because I would have totally gotten sucked in, and I don’t know if I could work with this woman because I couldn’t keep this story contained within me. So I guess my advice is don’t be like me.

          1. OP*

            I’m pretty sure I can keep it separate. I’ve been keeping my personal life very, very separate from work for the past 13 years–Like I said, I work in a fairly stodgy, old-school conservative industry, which is the complete opposite of my personality. Most of my colleagues don’t even recognize me very easily outside of work. If I behaved like my normal, relaxed self at work and let all the personality quirks shine, I’d never have gotten as far as I have, sadly.

            I realize it was completely dumb of me, but the tone of her emails was such that it sorta *felt* very chatty and conciliatory, like, “hey, I know you just had a super-difficult phone conversation with my husband, but he really misspoke very badly and I think you should know the background and the context before you totally fly off the handle, and here’s how all this came about before you were dating him.” Followed by, you know, her life story. And then I did the dumb thing and replied, “here is why I flew off the handle, I just got out of a bad relationship with a lot of cheating, blah blah, I sympathize with your feelings but this is not a thing that will work out, sorry.” And then she replied saying how sorry she was to hear that but she was glad I shared because now she understood why I was so shocked and angry, and went on at length about her hopes and fears and feelings and what she had wanted to happen, etc etc. The first couple of emails from her, while it was a weird thing we were discussing, were very…friendly? Sympathetic? Understanding? All of those, I guess. It was only after I told her, “Listen, this is just a really weird thing you are asking, and if this is a thing you are interested in, maybe you should read this book and talk to that discussion group about how to go about doing that sort of thing, but the way you approached it felt like I was being used, lied to and generally treated disrespectfully, and that’s unacceptable” and then it went downhill from there.

            1. Jax*

              As someone who also went though infidelity, I can understand how you would get sucked into this drama.

              Infidelity makes you a member of a shameful, embarrassing club that you never wanted to join. Cheater or betrayed, it doesn’t matter. It makes you feel gross and everyone in your life looks at you (and your marriage) differently. They judge. They make assumptions. It’s isolating and awful.

              Going through it, you read all these great books and learn so much about relationships. You start looking at life with brand new eyes, and you WANT to help other people who may be going through it.

              So I completely get why you would get sucked into that rabbit hole and keep engaging with this woman. She was someone going through it too, another member of The Crappiest Club on Earth.

              No judgment from me on that.

              Please don’t take this job. She’s already shown you that she’s not a clear thinker–if her job is threatened, she’s going to come at you with both barrels and ruin both of your professional reputations.

    3. Jamie*

      First, my feeling is that maybe this couple was trying to get you involved in some sort of threesome.

      That’s what this smells like to me.

      1. Joshua*

        Yeah, it sounds like a really inefficient, backwards, irresponsible attempt at setting up a threesome or possibly cuckold scenario. Just be direct with people and let the chips fall where they may. Too simple, eh?

  5. PoohBear McGriddles*

    This has Lifetime movie written all over it.

    Has she actually seen your face or learned your last name? I’m guessing she got your name from your email, but is there a chance she might not realize the woman in the office auditing her work is the same woman her open-marriage-enjoying husband was pursuing?

    1. HumbleOnion*

      Yeah, if she doesn’t know what you look like, you could use your middle name in the office or some other sort of nickname. If your last name is somewhat common, she might not even make the connection.

  6. Laura*

    This has to be in the running for Best Question Ever in the history of AAM, right?

    OP, I beg you, keep us posted on how this develops. And of course, I’m terribly sorry you’ve found yourself in this clusterfudge.

    1. AMG*

      Yes, yes, and yes. OP, I am sorry you are going through this. We absolutely must have an update, OP!

      Given you rcomments about the small community, I think it just may be worth giving the job a shot, especially if the job pool is smaller where you are. Unless you can get to the metro area for work, then you should probably look there.

  7. Lisa*

    I think its extra weird that this wife thinks that her husband must equal the score in order to move past it. He is clearly telling her that so she is hoping that OP has an affair with him so they can move forward. This is beyond stupid.

  8. Anonymous*

    I would not want to take that job anymore if I was you. There’s just way too much potential for awkwardness.

  9. Anonymous*

    Oh my gosh, this is so awful but also so hilarious.

    I have to say, though…OP, had you been doing ballroom for long? Because this registers as cray-cray on an normal person scale. In ballroom, which is possibly THE most dramatastic subculture I have ever been involved with, it’s pretty much Tuesday.

    ….I am exaggerating only the tiniest amount.

    I miss dancing. I do NOT miss the crazy.

    In practical terms I think you do need to stay as far away as possible.

    1. tesyaa*

      My ex-boss’s wife was a ballroom dancing teacher. She ended up leaving him for their kids’ gym teacher.

    2. Mystic*

      I’ve always been semi-interested in trying ballroom dancing… (masquerade scene from Labyrinth, anyone?)

      But after this post and your insight about the ballroom dancing scene, I think it’s best that I only participate from the safety of my living room.

      1. KM*

        Also a ballroom dancer, and yes, there is drama (regardless of whether you do Latin or smooth), but it’s possible to make the conscious decision to avoid it. Just don’t let yourself get sucked in. For me, that means no dating among the ballroom crowd.

      2. Stevie*

        When I did competitive ballroom, it could get a little sticky. But you also have to think about the “loooook at meeeee!!!!” personality types that are attracted to this kind of competition. I’ve never heard of abnormal drama levels in purely social dancing circles…so definitely give it a shot if you just want to learn to dance! :)

        1. TL*

          Ah, maybe that’s it – I don’t compete (and probably wouldn’t if I had the chance) and nobody in the group competes either, except for once a year in the local competition.

    3. OP*

      About a year and a half. Although, thank heavens, two of my instructors are really diligent about keeping drama to a minimum. I’ve seen it in other classes/instructors/groups though, and I know what you mean.

  10. Ellie H.*

    Am I the only person who thinks that this isn’t a huge problem? My guess is that the wife will not want to say anything about this whole crazy interpersonal situation and neither will the OP. There are a lot of circumstances in life where we run into people we wish we didn’t run into.

    I’m also not really getting the impression that the wife feels that antagonistically toward the OP. I feel like the wife wanted the OP to have an affair with the husband, but that it’s not the end of the world that she didn’t – it doesn’t strike me as a totally conflict filled situation, just drama filled. I would imagine that they both would be able to pretend they didn’t know each other and leave it at that.

      1. fposte*

        I’m inclined to agree that it theoretically isn’t a huge problem, but my concern is that the OP’s tendency toward engagement is going to head the situation toward trouble. This is also not a story she can tell there, and that may be really hard to resist.

        So be honest with yourself, OP, about whether you can leave all this crap behind and shut it down if it gets brought up.

        1. TL*

          To be fair, I think part of the OP’s problem was that she just didn’t recognize crazy.

          So she got over-involved but with the expectation, I imagine, that everyone was more or less operating along social norms. And then they weren’t.

          1. fposte*

            The thing is, once you’ve had the “I’m married” conversation with the guy, anything beyond that is crazy. And there are no actual sunk costs worth trying to retrieve here. To paraphase an adage, the best time to get out was a while ago, the second best time is right now.

            1. TL*

              Oh, yeah, she should’ve gotten out.

              I’ve just known people who sometimes see crazy like this and think, “well, it’s just a bit different and s/he does seem to want my help” because they just don’t see how anyone who is nice to them could be not rational.

              1. Anonyhere*

                This happened to me once-upon finding out my boyfriend was also someone else’s, we tried the friends in solidarity thing…until she decided to get back with him. Apparently getting back with him meant it was necessary to trash talk me all over our small town, even though I had moved on and was no longer dating him. Turned out she was cray cray and looooved drama…so he married her. They are now the proud survivors of the world’s messiest divorce. I would never make nice with the other woman again. If he’s the type to play that game, she can have him-end of discussion. She just seemed so nice, but she twisted everything I said and reported it to anyone who would listen once I was dubbed the enemy. Do not engage, and if you can avoid it, pass on the job. Do NOT count on this nut to keep it professional, OP!

        2. jmkenrick*

          That’s true. And not just for this situation…if you want to be effective at work (and in life, really) you have to know when not to engage. Sometimes it’s best to let someone else get the last word in, and just move on…

          1. Lindsay J*

            Yes! This is something I have a great deal of difficulty with because I hate it when people are wrong, however, learning how to let go has done a great deal of good for both my professional and personal life.

        3. Bobby Digital*

          I agree with Ellie H.: the wife is unlikely to mention this at work.

          But I also agree big-time with fposte: I think it’s going to be really, really hard for the OP to avoid talking about this. I think the “be honest with yourself…” advice is fantastic.

          And while you’re being honest, OP, try to picture the situation as it will be, not as it is. If Molly, your new office bestie, says to you over lunch, “Oh, and that’s Crazy Carol. She’s sooo weird but her husband’s hot,” will you -really- be able to stay quiet?

          1. OP*

            Given the drama at the moment, I think I would probably smile, shrug, and reply, “oh well, I’m a lesbian, so…” rather than answer that.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      If that’s the case, then do you guys think it might help smooth things over if the OP suggested some potential partners? I mean, I wouldn’t want to get any more involved, but at this point, maybe leading them to another affair candidate to even the score would help?

      It’s all so crazy I can’t help but laugh!

      1. Kerry*

        I think this is a TERRIBLE idea. The OP needs to be seriously disengaging, not getting even more involved and tangled up in any attempts to “fix” things. What will fix things is being as distant as possible.

      2. TL*

        What I would give to be a fly on the wall for that conversation: “Look, I’m not going to sleep with him, but Christine over there has always thought his calves were particularly nice.”

    2. Aimee*

      Sorry but I would be very nervous about this and encountering the wife. Although the OP did nothing wrong and the husband and wife are obviously lunatics, I would be afraid this could turn violent.

      They’re action already show that they are insane. OP please stay away. I know this sucks but I would not want anything to happen to you. You did nothing wrong and it’s unfortunate. I’m just concerned for you.

      1. jmkenrick*

        I guess I feel like lots of people have messy personal lives and keep it out of the office. I think this is a weird situation. I think this woman sounds like she needs to pull herself together (wife, not OP) but…well, she is the one who shut down the interaction. And we’re only seeing a small slice of her life. Virtually everyone has had moments of crazy in their personal lives.

        It COULD be a disaster, obviously. But lots of people have affairs. Lots of people stupidly get embroiled in talking to their partner’s lovers…insane and violent seem like bold claims to make given how much we know about this situation.

    3. Mystic*

      I agree as well. I don’t think there is much the wife can say about you that doesn’t also make HER look bad, depending on honesty I suppose.

      But anyone can spread false rumors about anyone at any time, so I don’t think it’s a risk worth making long-term career choices over.

      I would still take the job, avoid her as much as possible, and dismiss any rumors (true or not) with a simple “Yeah, I went on a few dates with her husband before I found out he was married. Obviously she’s still upset about it, but there’s nothing I can do.”

      Plus, if her job is probably going to end in 2014, that’s an even bigger reason to ignore her in your career decisions.

      1. anon..*

        “Yeah, I went on a few dates with her husband before I found out he was married. Obviously she’s still upset about it, but there’s nothing I can do.”

        This is a good answer IMO. Memorize it!

      2. JuliB*

        Definitely take the job. There are nutcases all over – so even though you’ll have a connection with her, just rise above it.

        1. Green*

          Yeah, but OP’s inclination is still like “OH SO NICE TO FINALLY MEET YOU!”

          I’d introduce myself to the wife as “Hi, my name is X. I’m going to be working in compliance.” And no mention of knowing each other.

          1. OP*

            Not really, I am asking what y’all think I should do. Because I have no idea, it’s all just too weird. If the consensus is “never breathe another word to her again!” hey, sounds GREAT to me!

    4. MR*

      I was thinking the exact same thing. While this is a big deal to the OP, it’s basically not any deal at all to the woman.

      While I don’t think this is something that the OP will forget about anytime soon, if she just drops everything with the woman, that woman will soon forget about this and move on.

      1. Contessa*

        I don’t think she would forget about it that easily . . . I still remember everything about the girl with whom my college boyfriend cheated on me (we’re talking a decade ago).

        However, there is a chance that she may be too embarrassed to bring it up at work. Based on the fact she felt the need to unload her problems on her husband’s mistress, I’m guessing that she maybe doesn’t have anyone else to talk to about this, so there probably isn’t anyone at work to whom she can really speak about it. On the other hand, she can just tell lies about other things, if she wants to get the OP fired.

    5. Anoners*

      I agree. There definitely is a chance that this could turn messy once she starts the job, but really, it’s not the OPs problem. The wife/husband are the ones that have a reason to be embarrassed by their behavior. The OP did nothing wrong, but it could be a bit awkward if they work together closely…

    6. AMG*

      You could argue that the wife absolutely does not want this coming out to her co-workers and will keep completely quiet. If that’s the case, then it’s just like navigating any other professional relationship. I completely agree with Alison’s advice to make sure your professional reputaiton is spotless. The job is a risk, but it could work out ok. Or it could be a nightmare. Just be sure you get out fast if it looks like it’s going to go badly so that your professional reputation doesn’t suffer if she flips out.

    7. Anon1*

      This woman has demonstrated herself to be unpredictable, an oversharer and not afraid of creating scenes. I experienced nearly the same situation–except I already worked with my “rival”. She spread vicious rumors, badmouthed me to my boss, and brought the teary drama to large group meetings for a year before she gave up trying to sabotage me. I behaved impeccably professionally the entire time, refusing to engage as others have suggested upthread. But there is no way this job is awesome enough to compensate for the potential effects on your professional reputation. Run the other way.

      1. jmkenrick*

        But…she hasn’t created any scenes. She’s only been involved with talking to the OP over e-mail. That’s the opposite of creating a public scene. And when the OP offered to meet in person, the wife turned it down, saying that they should end the discussion.

        To me, that sounds more like someone who’s struggling with a specific situation…not necessarily like someone who has a pattern of crazy behavior. I’m not saying she couldn’t…but it really surprises me how vehement the commentators here seem to be that she most definitely will be a nightmare to work with. Can we really be so confident based on 1 phone call and a handful of e-mails exchanged with OP?

        1. Jamie*

          I don’t know…being that the OP was basically ambushed on the first phone call where the wife was there I’d call that a scene. It may be small in scope, but it involved bringing a stranger (at that point the OP) into murky personal waters.

          I think the fear that she’d be a nightmare stems from (at least for me) she’s proven unequivocally she doesn’t have conventional boundaries. The phone call, the multipage email extremely personal email to who was (at the time) a virtual stranger…that behavior is cause for serious concern.

          If people are willing to ignore boundaries in one situation that doesn’t necessarily mean they would at work, but it makes it more likely and they should be viewed with a lot more caution.

          1. jmkenrick*

            I think you’re absolutely right. OP should definitely proceed with caution. And the wife clearly does not have a good handle on how to manage her marriage.

            However, I’m just not sure we can conclude that this woman is definitely going to be hell to work with. There are plenty of people are hell in their personal relationships but are very professionally accomplished.

        2. Anon1*

          I disagree. Perhaps it wasn’t public in the sense that they weren’t in the middle of a restaurant. But they chose to create a scene by involving an innocent bystander (the OP) in their marital drama. The OP’s life is the public that they created a scene in.

          Dan Savage wrote a NSFW column within the last couple of years about involving unwitting strangers in sex games, and this amounts to the same thing. Whether the wife was game or not, the OP was not (at first) a willing, informed participant in this drama. I would not trust these people to keep it private.

          1. jmkenrick*

            I agree, but I don’t think that’s the same as what you’re describing in terms of the office. Flipping out and creating a scene in a meeting, like you describe, is different than creating a drama within your own personal life, and plenty of people can draw that boundary.

            Maybe this woman can’t, but I don’t think we can unequivocally say that. It’s possible she can.

            1. Anon1*

              But why take the risk? I would argue that we equally can’t assume that the OP is desperate for a job. OP is walking into a potentially precarious situation; my point was (coming from experience) don’t take this lightly. Commenters on AAM can say “your work will speak for itself” all day long, but the OP may put her career at risk by working with this person. I would not want my new colleagues’ first impression of me to be the wife whispering that I’m a slut or a homewrecker. I was not new at my job, and it was *still* horrible, because there is really nothing you can say to counteract that type of accusation.

              1. Layla*

                Practically you may be right , but I’d feel sore giving up a good opportunity because of something that I was not the party in the wrong

  11. redvelvet cheesecake*

    im sorry but I find all this just…. way too much involvement. OP you also exercised not poor but not so great judgment either by getting into a long conversation with this person. there was no need to respond or go back and forth wiht the wife for any reason beyond “Ok bye!”

  12. some1*

    I’m going to say don’t take the job and find another dance group if Bob is still in yours. And never, ever return a phone call, email, or text from Bob or the wife again.

    Imo, Bob violated you twice: once when he didn’t tell you he was married and the second time when he brought his wife into it. You don’t owe her a damn thing besides “I didn’t know he was married” which she already got.

    1. Tekoa*

      I don’t know if the OP should take the job or not. But this is what I agree with….

      “And never, ever return a phone call, email, or text from Bob or the wife again.

      Imo, Bob violated you twice: once when he didn’t tell you he was married and the second time when he brought his wife into it. You don’t owe her a damn thing besides “I didn’t know he was married” which she already got.”

      Unless its company type communication, do not talk to either person again. Period. Definitly exclaimation mark.

  13. Gail L*

    Personally, I would be angry that such a thing might prevent me from getting a job I wanted and capable of doing. Especially if the job is one I’d want for a long time, whereas this person may be gone soon enough.

    I’d actually take the job. If you encounter her, act as cool and professional as possible. If she seems adversarial, tell your manage you’ve encountered her in your personal life, and that the encounter was not a friendly one. Advise him on how you intend to handle the professional relationship to prevent any problems. But that will help if a sudden rumor springs up, “My husband cheated with her.”

    Ultimately, your work will speak for itself and I doubt the crazy is hidden from her coworkers.

    Then again, I have recently been “in the middle” of several work relationships where I’ve maintained good ones with multiple coworkers who did NOT get along. It takes a lot of energy to be at odds with people, and it takes energy to maintain relationships in the face of that as well. This job may not be fun, in the short term.

    1. Kathy*

      I agree. Take the job and feign ignorance around the wife. From the sounds of things, she may not have a job there that much longer anyway.

    2. Contessa*

      I agree. I would be livid if I had to give up a job I really wanted because some woman whom I knew in a personal context might start drama. If you run into her at work, pretend you’re just meeting for the first time. She will probably be grateful, so she doesn’t have to come up with an explanation either. Hopefully she won’t resent the OP doing her job and potentially criticizing her work, but that’s one of those “cross that bridge when you come to it” kind of things. The OP should be able to protect against that by documenting everything involving that woman.

  14. Bean*

    OP did not submit this question to be told by everybody that she should not have spoken to the wife; Alison already established this. I have no idea why everyone feels the need to tell OP that she shouldn’t have spoken to the wife to the extent she did…what’s done is done and she knows for next time, which more than likely will not happen (I mean seriously…this situation is so screwed up). OP wants to know advice on whether or not to take the job. She doesn’t even have an offer, so who is to say that she will get it? Yes, the interviews went well, but so do a lot of interviews and there may still be a better candidate.

    With that being said, I agree with Ellie H. I highly doubt that the wife will want anybody finding out. If I were OP, I would accept the job (if offered), and keep my personal life personal. There is nothing for OP to be ashamed of here; she did not know that the man she met was married so if the wife blabs about it, it makes her (and her marriage) look bad.

    1. Green*

      Because recognizing and controlling the instincts that led to her talking to the wife and taking her pre-emptive actions (with ballroom dance teacher, and then justifying both of those things in this thread) will be the only thing that could potentially make this job workable.

      1. Bobby Digital*

        Yes, this is why. With a little bit of “this was so egregiously not what anyone should ever do but this is a really difficult situation without established behavioral parameters” thrown in.

  15. Mike C.*

    This is the most perfect Friday post. OP, you should have an affair with the wife to even your score.

  16. Mena*

    You actually got in an online discussion/debate about why you did not want to have an affair with her husband? Why ever did you feel this merited discussion with the wife? And now you’re afraid you offended her by being judgmental and it will hurt you at work. I think I’d be more worried about your willingness (and want) to engage in un-necesssary drama – this demands some thought and consideration.

    As for the job, you have to walk away (fast).

    1. Arbynka*

      I agree with Mena. If I was OP, it would have to be a hell of a great job with awesome benefits for me to take it. Yes, the wife might want to keep things private and nothing might happen…
      But we are also talking about a woman who emailed OP telling her that she is too hard o her husband… I don’t know, the potential for trouble here is pretty big.

  17. Jamie*

    I always focus on the minutia…I’d have been furious to get an email from the wife? What kind of cheater gives out his gfs email to his wife?

    Marriage vows are one thing, but email privacy should be sacred.

    1. fposte*

      And now there’s going to be the weird autofill accident where you hear from her again or get included on a multi-recipient blast…

      1. Jamie*

        Ah – autofill – a blessing and a curse.

        I have a user who uses autofill for his contacts. Not as a type saving measure, but in that he doesn’t add anyone to contacts just keeps them in there.

        When he tried out his new workstation before I could move his nk2 file over he was horrified they were lost.

        I will never understand people.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Seriously, Jamie, that person has got to be the same one that used to work here.

          Same thing. He used autofill all the time and never saved anything to the address book. So guess what happened when I bought him a new PC? He thought I had done something wrong and complained that I “had lost all his contacts.” I asked him where he usually saved all his contacts, because I couldn’t find anything in the address book. His response was, “I don’t. They’re just there.” I found his nk2 file and all was well.

          I was always tempted to mess with his computer in some way, just so I could hear him complain that there was “chaos” going on with the computer. But then I would be the one to have to fix it. So.

      2. Natalie*

        Or you’ll get a spam email from her account if it’s ever hijacked. “I have been mugged in London and I lost my passport and all my money!”

    2. Kit M.*

      There was a great Miss Manners a while back — sadly, I can’t remember the exact question, but I think it was actually about a man (who’d been caught cheating) unilaterally sharing correspondence from his affair with a married woman. As I recall, Miss Manners response was along the lines of, “Just because you were a cad to your wife does not excuse you in being a cad to the lady you had an affair with.”

    3. jmkenrick*

      Yeah, that would really piss me off as well. If I go into a relationship expecting to deal with one person I would not want to have to answer to angry spouse! Grrr.

  18. cf_programmer*

    Wow, that is a tough situation! I think the best way to deal with this is to walk away from this job. It sucks, but if you take it, the drama will escalate. A lot.

    1. Anonymous*

      Agree. Things could escalate in ways you can’t imagine. No job is worth that. Walk away and don’t look back.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP gets credit for that! This is one of the few occasions where I used (more or less) the subject line of the email.

      And when I saw that subject line, without even opening the email I knew it would end up making an excellent Friday post.

      1. fposte*

        Then kudos to you, OP, for condensing this whole situation so neatly. It would have taken me quite a few goes :-).

  19. A. Nonymous*


    A couple things stuck out to me. First, we (the audience to the OP’s story) are assuming the wife has no boundaries and is engaging in crazy behavior, but that may not actually be the case. While it is a bizarre situation, it is possible that the wife was acting within boundaries established in and unique to her marriage. And that her husband actively involved her in the initial phone conversation with the OP by choice. It doesn’t make this any less awkward to someone outside their relationship, but if it were me in this situation, I would absolutely avoid interaction with both of them. It is impossible to know the true dynamic there.

    Second, because the OP did continue to engage with the wife after it would have been reasonable to stop, she has now created an impression of an open door to the wife. That makes this even more awkward. OP, I agree with other opinions that there should be a very clear line of separation between your interests and the interests of this couple. You unfortunately allowed the interaction with her to go on and on, and it would be best to indicate that you are done, if any further conversation is attempted.

    1. Kit M.*

      While it is a bizarre situation, it is possible that the wife was acting within boundaries established in and unique to her marriage.

      The problem is that the third party didn’t consent to be a part of whatever they had going on, yet she was getting included in it. That’s where the boundary problems come in.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        True, to a point. When the OP learned of the marriage, had she told them she wanted no further contact, then absolutely yeah, she is being dragged into anything else that happens. But here, that’s not the case. The OP was actively involved in continuing conversation with the wife, and by doing that, she did consent to being partially involved in their situation, even after knowing it was a marriage that she did not want to be involved in. I feel for the OP, but she really needs to stop her involvement before things progress further.

        1. Jamie*

          I agree with that once she continued the conversation.

          But he had zero business dating her without disclosing that he was married – that is involving her without her consent.

          And he had zero business putting her in touch with his wife via the phone call without her consent.

          The OP didn’t extricate herself quickly enough, imo, but she was pulled into another couple’s relationship against her will and that’s the problem.

          I couldn’t care less what consenting adults do or the rules of their relationships, but you don’t foist that on unsuspecting people without full disclosure.

          1. A. Nonymous*

            Agreed. Had he been behaving correctly, he would have disclosed his relationship to OP before their relationship go very far, and he did not. While he involved his wife in the phone conversation, the OP is still choosing to respond to her email and to continue talking. The choices being made by this couple are really awful, no argument. But OP is choosing to be involved as well, both on the job level and the communicati0on level. That’s where I’m having a hard time saying this is all due to the couple and/or wife’s behavior.

      2. Ellie H.*

        That was my first thought. I think it’s a really terrible thing to do to include third parties in your sex life without their consent.
        Some people in dominant/submissive relationships will do this by openly engaging in the dynamic in public places or in front of their friends, where it’s obvious that part of the sex dynamic is showing it off to other people. I find that wildly inappropriate. It did strike me that the date and his wife are likely doing the same thing to the OP.

    2. Nichole*

      Isn’t a pretty fair definition of crazy “acts on one’s own unique boundaries even when they are not reasonably expected to be within normal boundaries for the person with whom you are interacting?”

      1. Bobby Digital*

        I mean, I hope not. My actions aren’t dictated by the normal boundaries of whatever dude or chick I happen to be talking to. Like…what if they’re crazy?

  20. Anonymous*

    Have not read all the comments, but I don’t think you hurt things when you started exchanging emails. You were done the minute the woman knew your name, which I’m thinking happened by the time her husband called you to say no can do.

    I think the work thing is going to be difficult, though; I tend to agree with Alison. The minute she knew who you were, you were going to be compromised in that job.

    On the plus side, you could put this together in a screenplay (you’d have to decide whether to make it a romcom or a Fatal Attraction thriller) and score big in Hollywood.

  21. bearing*

    Hasn’t anyone considered the possibility (much more likely than the cray-cray wife theory IMO) that

    (a) the real wife, who was NOT under the impression that she was in an open marriage, found out about the nascent affair and made her husband call the OP, while she listened in, to break up;

    (b) the husband later – without the knowledge of the wife – sent emails the OP from a different account, pretending to be the wife, and pretending that they had an open marriage which the wife supported, in the hopes of fooling the OP into continuing the affair.

    “I hope you’ll give him another chance?” Hm.

    1. V*

      Yes, that’s what I thought as well! The phone conversation and the subsequent emails seem like two completely different stories altogether.

    2. Ommertram*

      My B.S. meter (unfortunately, recently professionally calibrated and tuned) reads that it is the husband behind the emails. If I read the OP’s comments correctly, they came from LinkedIn. He could have hacked the wife’s account & then deleted the correspondence.
      If it was from LinkedIn, it does beg the question of why the OP accepted the wife’s link… Don’t you have to be linked to be able to send emails?

  22. Jamie*

    In thinking about this, trying to put myself in the situation (which is near impossible seeing as I can’t dance, don’t like to leave the house, and new people with drama make me twitchy) but just to comment on the whole wife confronting the mistress thing…I don’t get it.

    If my husband cheated on me the last thing I’d want to do is have a conversation with her. My hurt, anger, and betrayal would have nothing to do with her. He’s the one who made vows, he’s the one who owes me loyalty and if he wanted someone else at least the respect to tell me to my face that it’s over and leave clean. He’s the one who would have been lying to me.

    The other woman would be nothing to me. Sure, I’d be curious to see what she looks like because I’m petty, but she’d be irrelevant. The recipient of my anger and pain would be my husband alone.

    I think I’m the outlier on that, but I never got the anger and cat fighting with the other woman. Assuming you have no relationship with her she’s not the problem. (That said if she’s your sister or friend…then go ahead and hate her, too. But a stranger? Why absolve him of any of the blame – he earned it.)

    1. some1*

      + a million.

      I’ve never understood cuckolded women who put all or most of the blame on the Other Woman.

      1. Loose Seal*

        It’s so they don’t have to take a good look at their relationship with their husband. It’s a form of self-blindfolding.

      2. LPBB*

        I don’t understand it either, but I imagine it’s a lot easier to focus your anger and hurt on this other individual than it is someone you still love and chose to commit to. For those women, focusing on how their husbands hurt them is probably also going to force them to confront a lot of uncomfortable truths — about their husbands, their relationship, and even themselves. It’s a lot easier to just blame “That Tramp” for everything and to pretend that if she hadn’t been around, everything would be lollipops and unicorns.

        1. Julie*

          And this is probably also why the wife got upset when she thought the OP was being too hard on her husband.

      3. TL*

        It also ties into the whole “women are temptresses, men can’t control themselves, so the woman is responsible for the man’s reaction” mindset, which makes it easier to buy into. (But also, yes, avoiding looking at the relationship.)

    2. Job seeker*

      Jamie, you are so right. There are always going to be women that have no shame. They are not the problem the problem is between husband and wife and that relationship. Not the other woman it is your guy.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s always simply putting her at fault; dealing with her directly is a way of trying to assert control over the situation and take the “ooh, I’ve got a secret” thrill out of the partner’s cheating.

      I don’t think it gets you anywhere and it sure creeps out the other person, but I think the game being played there can get very complicated.

    4. Omne*

      I just have to comment OT about the wife/mistress confrontation. One of my favorite movie scenes is from an Italian movie called Bread & Tulips where the wife decides to set up her own life and the husband wants her to come back. The scene was where the mistress calls the wife and begs her to come back because the husband now expects the mistress to do his laundry.

  23. Jane*

    The only thing that gives me pause here is that you said her department might be in jeopardy next year. Life is long and if there’s a real possibility that she could be let go in six months, that’s something to take into account. I’d weigh that against the possible damage to your career of working with this person and the opportunity this job represents.

  24. AB*

    I’m really sorry for the situation the OP is in, but I can’t help but imagine the next letter to AAM:

    “Dear AAM,

    I discovered my husband was about to start an affair with a colleague from his dance class. I was able to intervene, but now the other woman managed to get a job as a consultant at the company I work for, fixing problems in my old department! I feel like I’m being stalked, and now she has started to spread rumors that I did incompetent work in my previous position. I’m at a point of considering going to HR to protect myself — what do you think I should do?”

      1. Tekoa*

        To avoid this, (assuming you get the job), I would just keep things VERY professional. Don’t mention the history or say “It’s good to finally meet you.” Pretend its the first time encountering the woman in any capacity. Don’t engage if either wants to talk about the subject. Cover your ears and loudly sing “LALALALA” as needed.

  25. Malissa*

    Oh my OP!
    You’ve got a couple of drama llamas and you’ve fed them. The best thing you can do now is lock them in the barn and starve them.
    Polite and professional is the only way to go. Also nobody else needs to know what happened. If asked, it was a personal thing that you don’t want to talk about. If the llamas want to talk about it, “sorry I can’t discuss that with you.”
    The road ahead will be bumpy, but if you keep your head up you should be able to do what ever, include take that job, if you firmly leave the drama behind.

    1. Green*

      “You’ve got a couple of drama llamas and you’ve fed them. The best thing you can do now is lock them in the barn and starve them.”

      AHAHAHA. Although that didn’t work so great with the zombies on Walking Dead.

  26. Trish*

    I was one of those women who blamed the other women. I obsessed on them. I was young, insecure, and confused.

    I am no longer any of those things. He is long gone, and I finally figured out every person is responsible for their own behavior and character.

    Op, you know you did nothing wrong. He did, for whatever reason that only God knows. It is not your problem, don’t make it yours.

    Being the upright professional you are, I know you can manage civility and remain composed in all your work relationships. Be polite, and show up as the class act you are. Other people aren’t stupid. If she tries to drag you down, she’ll be the one who looks bad, not you.

    Go do a great job, and be joyful that you are free to meet a less mentally ill gentleman to dance life with. Focus on your future, not their life. Blessings!

  27. Working Girl*

    Sounds like you got tangled with “swingers” – couples who swing to other people and back to their spouse. Best way to deal with the situation in my opinion would be to have said you were not interested when you found out he was married and stopped all communications, no phone calls, no emails, no coffee, no dancing, nothing, end of story. Related to your career – she may not say anything as she may not want to admit she and her husband are swingers, if it comes up, just say you did not know he was married and broke it off when you found out, and leave it there, no further communication.

  28. Richard*

    Yikes. Abort, abort!

    So from a personal standpoint, if you find out that you’re the “other man/woman”, then you pull the cord and eject. If you find out from the partner of the person you’ve been seeing, you high tail it twice as fast, because no good can come of getting any more involved in someone else’s drama than you already have to. Certainly don’t offer them your opinion, because the chances are that you’re already perceived as “the bad guy” by them, even if you weren’t aware – your advice is unlikely to be welcomed. Best to get as much distance from the blast radius as possible, and avoid the inevitable fallout.

    As for professionally; if you think that this is likely to end up with negative repercussions to your career – if your profession relies on a basis of trust, or if it’s a small world where a rumour could damage your standing, or if this other person is in a position where she might be able to poison your professional reputation, it might be worth keeping your distance again. You might be willing and able to act professionally, but that is no guarantee that she’ll be able to. Unless you’re seriously lacking other options, I’d be wary.

  29. Rob M*

    Oh man. I’d jump into this one with both feet and no reserve chute. I don’t normally seek out drama, but life is short and boring. I hope it results in witty banter, grudging respect, and a katana duel.

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